Post Hanna blow-out and Sunday randomness

Hanna came in and through late last night, announcing itself (sorry, I can’t anthromorphize a frigging rain storm with a feminine “she”) with a burst of rain on the skylights that drove the terriers into the closets and under the couches to hide from the thunder and lightning that surely must follow. I stepped outside at the conclusion of the Sox game to check the boats in the yard and the trees were tossing pretty vigorously in the thick, warm wind.  Just another squall, so I went to bed and woke this morning to scudding skies and a stunning bright sunrise.

I walked the dog down Old Shore Road to the harbor, didn’t see any boats tossed onto the shore, just a finger pier looked a little battered over by the old yacht club beach at Mrs. Cabot’s. The skiffs, still rigged, looked safe and sound on the yacht club lawn. Some people were snapping pictures of them and a dog walker forged down the beach to Little River, plastic poop bag in hand.

Just another September morning on Cape Cod, and now I have a day of paperwork and bills, taxes and tedium before the car service comes to fetch me in ten hours for the ride to Logan then British Airways to Heathrow and onwards to Bangalore. Some Sunday morning randomness:

  • I have travel fatigue. Beijing knocked the stuffing out of me and now that I’m back and adjusted to my home timezone I have to do the far worse trip to India. 23 hours door-to-door (that’s real hours, not timezone hours) is not fun. I get back on Thursday night and do it again to Raleigh the following Tuesday for four days of catchup. Week after that Chicago and New York in the same week.
  • I have to prep a 45 minute talk to 400-some magazine/publishing executives at the Folio show. This has me anxious as most public speaking makes me anxious.
  • I have to put the Olympic blogging program to rest. Last week was spent gathering metrics and traffic and impressions and press mentions and all that good stuff that goes into a post-mortem report. I miss that program a lot. An awful lot.
  • Seriously maudlin over not seeing my oldest two when they disappeared last month for college and the eldest’s first trip to Europe. We have one left at home, he’s a high school freshman, and are staring at the empty-nest scenario sooner than later. September has always been the bluest month for me — I guess for anybody — and this one is particularly wistful.
  • Crossfit kicked my ass. Yesterday’s workout, “Linda” involved lifting weights (deadlift, benchpress, snatches). My son spotted me on the presses. Ten, “declining” sets, 10-9-8-7-6….. 57 minutes. Horrifying. May need to take today off but don’t want to, will miss some workouts in transit to India and if weren’t for Crossfit I wouldn’t have survived China as well as I did.
  • Fat Sunday New York Times is an indication that summer is truly over and the Times is back in full swing after the August doldrums. Some randomly interesting stuff in there. One is the profile of ad network Blue Lithium founder. Young guy. Made a stack. I have no idea what he did to make his first pile using some software on top of DoubleClick. Made no sense. Big meaty article about ambient conversations or something in the Magazine. Essentially microblogging via Twitter and Facebook and what it does to us. Don’t know about you but both services continue to unimpress me, but I know are giant foundations for the under 30 generation where relationship management is everything. And I skimmed a piece pitting Yelp against Zagat’s — ok, I get it and I use neither.
  • I found myself writing two things yesterday defending Vista. I guess the Seinfeld ad’s are working.

That’s all for now. I write some posts offline on the plane and post when I get to the Ista Hotel in Bangalore at 6 am on Tuesday (local time). Couple days of workshops and I think I fly home in time to be back in Cotuit on Friday. Not sure. Need to go download my itinerary.

Battening down

We pulled the boats in the Cotuit version of an old fashioned barn raising — the Hurricane-Is-A-Coming Boat Pull — a ritual that involves at least six Cotuit Skiff owners  simultaneously flipping out and amplifying weather rumors into a pending disaster worthy of a Jerry Bruckheimer/Chad Oban film. Strike up the bad electric guitar solo as these six adults anxiously unrig their antique sailboats while bemused rubberneckers drive past in their SUVs and snap pictures.

It’s not that frantic. We’re pretty good at it. Conrad hauls his boats and his customers boats out of the water fully rigged and up the hill to his boat shop. Since he’s a boat builder he has a special trailer that makes skiff pulling a simple one-man operation. The rest of us — Dan, Jimmy, Brad, Tom, and me — play boat trailer roulette, pressing into service anything with wheels and a trailer hitch to get the job done. In a full-on hurricane boat pull during the summer season, dozens of people swing into action and we can move an entire fleet of 40 boats into the meadow atop Rope’s Hill in about three hours. Off season, as we are now after Labor Day, the remaining townie sailors have to play good Samaritan and pull the remaining fleet. Thankfully yesterday’s pull was minor as we’re only operating under a tropical storm watch and Hanna was pooping out in the Carolinas. Nevertheless, I had to pull my boats because of next week’s trip to Bangalore and the fact that two more storms — Ike and Josephine — are right behind Hanna.

Our last legit hurricane on the Cape was Category 1 (the weakest on the one-to-five scale) Bob in August of 1991. That is the one and only true hurricane to hit the Cape in my 50 years on the planet, but beginning in 1938 on through the early 50s, the Cape got pasted with some regularity, including some big damage to the Cotuit Skiff fleet. So, rather than risk a 60-year old nautical antique built by my grandfather in the hopes of getting a few more weekend sails in before Halloween, I pull.

So, here’s the drill. My son Fisher and I row out to the motorboat, tow the dinghy to the beach, motor back out to the skiff, untie and tow it ashore and do the same for the other boats. The first rule of boat pull is the first boats to get pulled are those belonging to people physically present and assisting. Boats being pulled for those absent — pity pulls — take low priority.

Fisher rides the skiff in and starts unrigging the sail while I anchor the motorboat. I fetch the ditty bag (sailor term for canvas bag of nautical tools) and start pulling out the mast wedges that hold the mast secure inside of the mast step. Forestay is unshackled. The halyards (ropes that raise and lower the sail) are unreeved. Fisher stands on deck, hugs the mast, lifts it out and we lower it down and into the cockpit of the boat along with the boom and the gaff. I get into the car attached to the trailer, back it down the ramp until the rear wheels touch the water, set the parking brake, jump out and pull out ten feet of winch rope. Fisher guides the hull onto the carpet covered bunks, gets the boat centered and I stick a rubber mallet with the winch line clove-hitched around the handle into the mast hole on the deck and start winding the boat carefully up onto the bunks. As soon as the boat is secure on the trailer, Fisher and I hop into the car and drive the boat out of the water, up the ramp and up Old Shore Road hill to Main Street, bang a left, go 50 feet and drive into my driveway.

Brother-in-law, brother, and college roommate/best man arrive in pickup truck. Hop out. Two guys on the bow. Two on the stern. Fisher on the saw horses. We lift on one-two-three, step over the trailer, put the gunwale or side of the skiff on the sawhorses, tip it up and over and then upside down, bottom up on the sawhorses. The horses are placed in the middle of the yard so when and if the trees come down they won’t land on the boat. The boat could, in theory, blow off of the horses, but the hull weighs 500 pounds and should be secure. Putting in a garage isn’t a smart move because a) the boat needs to be washed with freshwater first b) that takes too much time and c) the garages are too close to the treeline and could get smashed by a falling maple and really mess up the boat.

Then we jump back into the vehicles and drive back down the hill to do it a few more times on the other guys’ boats. Whole operation takes less than hour but can be made more complex when:

  1. The gang drinks beer and tells stories in between boats.
  2. Tools from my ditty bag are borrowed and dropped in the water
  3. The trailer tire goes flat and a can of a Flat-Fix gunk needs to be located
  4. The stem on the trailer tire rips off and the flat fixer is coated with white Flat-Fix gunk
  5. Another trailer is found
  6. More beer is drunk
  7. People who don’t know how to back up a trailer are allowed to back up the trailer
  8. Weekend Wally’s who don’t understand boat ramp etiquette slip in with their trailers and decide to give their boat a manicure on the ramp while the rest of us made loud suggestions that they move it elsewhere

Colleagues in North Carolina are reporting no big deal, their lights are still on, and Hanna is right to their east. We awoke to a good, unrelated rain storm, now everything is muggy and quiet, but the fun should begin around 7 pm. Tomorrow I should be able to relaunch the motorboat, and sun shine permitting, get in some beachtime before departing for the airport and my Bangalore flight at 6:30 pm.

Does Verizon use Kindles for Field Dispatch?

Watching the Red Sox game tonight (Beckett is back!) I saw an ad for Verizon FIOS (bring it to Cotuit you slackers!). The ad shows a poor cable guy leaving and apartment and running into the FIOS installer in the hallway. They say hey, compare notes. Cable guy asks the Verizon guy what’s happening. Verizon guy consults an Amazon Kindle, sans leather cover, hits the touchscreen (wait, my Kindle doesn’t have a touch screen) rattles off some addresses. Cable guy, who is a schlub, consults a lo-tech clipboard.

Okay, so Kindle is wide area wireless, but no way Verizon is using them any place other than TV ads. Right?

Dave The Klam Killer

I aspire to earning a nickname when all is said and done. Something like the one the Byzantine Emperor Basil II earned, First I need to do something either heroic or heinous:

“Finally, on July 29, 1014, Basil II outmaneuvered the Bulgarian army in the Battle of Kleidion, with Samuil separated from his force. Having crushed the Bulgarians, Basil was said to have captured 15,000 prisoners and blinded 99 of every 100 men, leaving 150 one-eyed men to lead them back to their ruler, who fainted at the sight and died two days later suffering a stroke. Although this may be an exaggeration, this gave Basil his nickname Boulgaroktonos, “the Bulgar-slayer” in later tradition.”

Basil II – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The nervous time of year

UPDATE: – I’m pulling the boats this afternoon. The town just sent an email to the mooring permit holders and all indications are things are going to get windy tomorrow. Can’t risk a 6-year old boat for a couple extra weekends of sailing.

September is when I start really worrying every time business travel takes me off of the Cape and I still have boats in the water. For September is hurricane month on Cape Cod — they hit rarely enough to make them a freak occurance, but often enough and with enough violence to make them a very bad thing and something to worry about.

I’ve been out of town when a hurricane has threatened and the feeling is very very bad. I rather be here, with the family, battening down the hatches and pulling boats for storage in Ropes Field rather than following it online via the National Weather Service.

Now with Hanna coming up the coast and me scheduled to leave for Bangalore on Sunday night, I may have to pull the Chugworm and the motorboat. Not a lot of people left in town to do it for me. It’s a shame, out is out when it comes to a Cotuit Skiff. They aren’t easy boats to launch and rig, but I have spent less time sailing this year than I spent sanding and and painting and there are some fun “cove races” throughout the fall weekends.

Tropical Storm HANNA Public Advisory.

Chatham resolves dinghy controversy

I noted a while back the controversy over dinghy storage in Chatham. Let’s tag this one under the “clamming” strategy aspect of this blog, as part of my ongoing crusade on waterfront access, riparian rights, water quality, and the old ways of life around the Cape Cod shorefront. Expect more ranting on my part through this fall as beachwalk season commences and I start to spend more time contemplating issues ranging from the dredging off of 600 feet of Sampson’s Island to nitrogen loads in Cotuit Bay to the evolving nature of waterfront policy around Cotuit and the Cape at large as population pressure and escalating waterfront values pit the public against the private. Anyway — here’s the Cape Cod Times on a compromise in Chatham to let people continue to store dinghies on the beach. This is an issue in Cotuit and I find myself fiercely guarding my dinghy slot by being the first on the beach every spring. Yet the beach is cluttered with abandoned hulks and needs to be purged.

“CHATHAM — The dinghies can stay, but only if their owners play by the rules.

That is the essence of a new policy that grew out of a confrontation over the winter between a Stage Harbor property owner, the town and the owners of small skiffs used to access boats offshore. The small boats have historically been left on private beaches around town.

Harbor Master Stuart Smith and the owners of the property near the town landing at Champlain Lane, identified as Champlain Realty Trust, have agreed on a solution that will preserve the age-old tradition and allow the owners to have an orderly, clean beach.” – Chatham resolves dinghy controversy.

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